I’m going to die one of these days.
I had successfully ignored that fact for a large chunk of my life. Then two things happened that made it impossible for me to ignore it anymore.
First, a little less than thirty years ago, I started having babies. Once that happened, I realized that I wasn’t allowed to die until my children don’t need me anymore. Now, of course, my children and I might disagree as to what “when they don’t need me anymore” actually means but that was my thought. Now, this year, my youngest will turn 18 — and I think we’ve hit that point. I think they could survive without me now.
So, according to that lone criteria, I can die now.
The other thing that happened, about 20 years ago, was that my own mother died. Once your parent dies, mortality kind of kicks you in the face … or it had that effect on me, anyway. My sense that I was safe because my parents stood between me and the Grim Reaper has no basis in reality, of course. Plenty of people outlive their children, for a variety of reasons. I didn’t even know that irrational idea was there until my mom died. But, however it was, her death made me stop and think about the fact that one of these days I, too, was going to shuffle off this mortal coil.
I thought about it … and then I forgot about it. After all, I was only 35.
Fast forward to now … and I find myself thinking about my mortality a bit more often these days. Not in any kind of morbid way but I’m thinking that, at this point, I’m probably closer to my death than I am to my birth. I don’t feel like I’m running out of time — I’ve still got quite a bit of kick left in me, I think — but I do feel, as I put it to Gina, that I am approaching the sunset of my life. And I have some thoughts about that.